Carchictecture, Houses with Horsepower

by Thijs Demeulemeester, Thomas De Bruyne, Bert Voet


A half dozen years ago a book titled Auto-tecture: Unique Designs for the Contemporary Garage by Andreas K. Vetter was published by Schiffer. Now, there is a similarly titled book, Carchictecture, Houses with Horsepower. That said, in reality, this new book is a quite different survey for it does not feature garages, although some are partially visible in some of the images but often not even entire buildings are shown.  

Carchitecture is indisputably and quintessentially a coffee table book. It promises to be about cars and architecture but its pages really only contain teases for each—albeit artfully presented and written. For each car/building combination—of which there are 56 pairings offered on the book’s 192 pages, there is one approximately 100-word paragraph about the particular car and another paragraph of equal length about the building. And that building may, or might not, have any relationship to where the particular car is actually garaged. As you can see from examples shown next, those images do not always show the entire car or building. So if anything appearing on the book’s pages—cars or structures—intrigue you, you’ll have to conduct your own exploratory research in order to find out more. 

Two typical page pairs are (above) this care-worn Mexico-manufactured VW Beetle shown in front of a 1952-constructed building in Mexico City. Below, a curiously dated page pair shows a Maserati GranTurismo tucked into its private space beneath its owner’s home in Takamatsu, Japan.

Two of the three co-authors call themselves “lifestyle journalists” with one, Thijs Demeulemeester, focused on interiors, contemporary art and architecture and the other, Bert Voet, on autos. The third, Thomas De Bruyne, is the designer of this book’s pages. All, as well as publisher Lanoo, are Belgian-based although locations featured in the book are all around this globe’s northern hemisphere. The book is well made with excellent photo resolution and copy printed on a heavy matte-finished paper and well bound. This second print run is the English version with translation credited to Patrick Lennon and copy-editing (a specific editing skill/task your reviewer provides to several publications and publishers) to Robert Fulton.

Two entries on consecutive pages—located half a globe apart with one in Norman, Oklahoma and the other in Girona, Spain—so intrigued me that I did search to learn more. 

The building’s appearance doesn’t conform to what’s commonly described as Prairie-style architecture because it was specifically designed to withstand the climatic rigors of the prairie, especially the tornados that are prevalent where it is located on the outskirts of Norman, Oklahoma. Architect Herb Greene applied aerodynamic principles to the exterior in order to make it as resistant to winds as possible. And in this image it is paired with a Raymond Loewy creation for Studebaker, a 1955 Commander.

Ever heard of an Arola? That’s the name of the microcar that also came in a four-wheeled version. The modular building components are called Hexacubes. Each contains 75 square feet and they are designed to be attached to one another to form as large a structure as its in habitants might require or desire. The photo was taken in Girona, Spain. And, yes, there’s a Porsche 911 visible too but it’s the Arola and the cubes that intrigued.

So, to best appreciate and enjoy this book, tuck into your favorite chair with a cozy fire visually and physically warming the room and with lovely music filling the air. Then reach for this Carchitecture, Houses with Horsepower book and explore its pages—enjoying the images and words—as a pleasure and relaxation. Then either shelve it in your library or share it with someone else who might similarly enjoy what its pages present.

Carchictecture, Houses with Horsepower  
by Thijs Demeulemeester, Thomas De Bruyne, Bert Voet
Lannoo Publishers, 2020
192 pages, 4 b/w & 83 color images, hardcover
No index 
List Price: $50 / €39.99 
ISBN 13: 978 9401 4610 3 0

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